The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2 (1986)

The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2 (1986)
  • Time: 89 min
  • Genre: Comedy | Horror
  • Director: Tobe Hooper
  • Cast: Dennis Hopper, Caroline Williams, Jim Siedow


Young DJ Vantia Block is hosting a music show when two renegade hoodlums phone her and start making trouble. The situation changes rapidly as the kids drive to a passageway and get sawed to pieces by Leatherface while the shocked DJ listens the kids’ screams. Local sheriff approaches Block and convinces her to play the recording made from the phone call on radio, hoping that the killers would show up.

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  • Sequels in general are hard not to be ignored and they are also very well known for not satisfying audience’s expectations. So far though, horror film franchises are the most prone to failing at being better than their initial entry in cinema. For one reason, it’s understandable if the founder left the project entirely because then the sequel may not be in the best hands to carry the story. That’s not the case here. Director Tobe Hooper, the man behind the first movie comes back to direct his long awaited sequel that almost seems like he forgot what made his original so horrifyingly stimulating. But he didn’t forget, Hooper admitted that he wanted this entry to be less serious. And for what it shows, in some ways it is goofy but its dark humor doesn’t always save it.

    Taking place 14 years later, audiences are introduced to Lefty Enright (Dennis Hopper), a man looking to find the cannibalistic Sawyer family who killed his brother’s kids and friends from the first movie. To Lefty’s dismay, trying to convince the police that the killers exist hasn’t been going well. Fortunately for him, he meets a radio host named Stretch (Caroline Williams) who happened to record one of their killings over a live broadcast. With that, Lefty asks Stretch to help him make the public aware of the current threat. As an entry continuing the story, it does have some key moments that show thought did go into it, but overall there’s less plot than before. Of what seems to be a subplot to expose the Sawyer family is then abruptly dropped for Dennis Hopper going on the hunt himself. What was even the point of making him apart of the police department if he decided he was going take matters into his own hands?

    There are some intriguing moments that screenwriter L.M. Kit Carson does include in this entry but not much of it feels completed. For continuity sake, Carson accomplished that. He not only makes reference to the original verbally but physically as well so that shows he had the right idea. As an interesting token, Carson also sheds some light on the Sawyer family. Specifically, that Drayton Sawyer (Jim Siedow, the ‘ol pop) is a renowned chili cook. This is some of the dark humor because the audience realizes what Drayton belongs to but the characters don’t. Another weird side note is that audiences get to see Leatherface actually display what almost seems like a little more humanity than before (almost). This key moment occurs whenever Leatherface is around Stretch. It’s these elements that show Carson had some appealing ideas but only some of these character threads are fully realized. There are still some things that don’t make sense though. An example of this is Bill Moseley, who successfully replaces Edwin Neal’s role as the hitchhiker. How’d he get so horrid looking? No explanation for that.

    Dennis Hopper as Lefty isn’t all the most believable because of his straight face performance. However, there are times where he blows a gasket and it’s entertaining to see. Caroline Williams as Stretch doesn’t play much of a memorable character. She does show some courage at times, but mostly she’s screaming widely to the point of ridiculousness. Although Jim Siedow was the only original actor to return for the Sawyer family, the entire group still acts as if they were apart of the first movie. Bill Moseley copies Edwin Neal’s performance nicely, Siedow had no trouble reconnecting with his original character and Bill Johnson who replaces Gunnar Hansen as Leatherface still looks terrifying. The camerawork was largely forgettable throughout. With an extended running time by 17 minutes from the original, there were only a couple shots that look good with the lighting. Everything else was a rather mishmash of ideas. It’s as if Tobe Hooper didn’t have much of a direction on how he wanted anything to look this time.

    The only other good aspect to this horror film is the violence. With practical effects master Tom Savini helping, the kills are bloodier and the props are much grosser. Gorehounds should enjoy the grossness. As for scariness, it’s not much of scarefest because audiences have a clear idea of what the Sawyer family is all about. The music provided again by Tobe Hooper and additional composer Jerry Lambert doesn’t waste time in ditching the atmosphere so cleverly crafted from the original. Instead of incorporating bonesaw noises, chicken squawks and what sounds like clanging kitchen tools, has been replaced with the all around generic synth piano. The notes are frantic to induce panic and scares but because there’s no atmosphere to the tune, it sounds largely uninspired and bland. Even for its conclusion, which felt rushed to begin with, feels almost nonexistent or effective in its delivery.

    Like other average horror sequels, it has a number of scenes that proved its writer had the ideas but could not completely stitch them together properly. The lead actors are middling in their performances, the music has no atmosphere and the story has a thinner plot than the last. The only things worth mentioning are its ability to still be gross in its visuals and the minor unfinished character threads.

    Points Earned –> 5:10

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